SDCC 2016: Hands-on first impressions with Battlefield 1

Battlefield 1a

Battlefield has been a long-time FPS staple for me in my many years of gaming. I’ve played, literally, every iteration of the franchise, with the exception of Battlefield 2142 (couldn’t really get into it). The many aspects of the Battlefield – from vehicular warfare, to massive maps with fully destructible environments, to some of the craziest gameplay you’ll see in an FPS – have done a fairly good job over the years of offering fans the best experiences possible. And now, with just mere months standing in the way of DICE’s next installment, Battlefield 1, it definitely feels like they’ve stuck to tradition.

Aside from Battlefield 1942, 1943, and Vietnam, the series has always been set in a fairly modern environment. When it was announced that they’d be going back to their roots and tapping a period in time that has rarely been touched in FPS gaming, I was more than stoked. The first trailer practically blew the minds of everyone that watched it (check out the trailer at the very end). I knew for sure that I had to get my hands on this game ASAP. At Nerd HQ during this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, I got my wish.

Other than the heat from the hot summer day outside, I was cool as a cucumber waiting in line to play (which wasn’t very long). There were 30 PC’s setup, and the game would be a 15 minute 15 v 15 match. Now once the game actually releases, you’ll be able to play in 32 v 32 matches. Stepping up to my station, it took me a minute or so to get acclimated to the controls, as I’m primarily a console gamer and seldom play on PC. As soon as I got all my ducks in order, it was time to play.

Setup

The mode we’re playing is Conquest, where you and your team have to hold multiple capture points to work down a ticker on the enemy team. Obviously, the other team is trying to do the same thing, so it’s going to be a battle to the bloody end. The map we’re on is called St. Quentin Scar, which is set in Northern France’s beautiful countryside at the farming village of Travecy.

Battlefield 1

Jumping In

Immediately you’re greeted with an all-to-familiar Battlefield map, which Battlefield veterans will feel at home with. You choose from one of four different loadouts, each with unique abilities: Assault, Medic, Support, Scout. The basics of classes are as follows: Assault uses SMG’s and assault rifles, Medic uses semi-automatic rifles and can drop health, Support uses LMG’s and can drop ammo, and Scouts use scoped sniper rifles.

Among being able to spawn on your base, already captured points, or your teammates, you can also spawn in a biplane or a tank. If you do choose tank, it is important to note that you’ll be spawned into one of many various types of tanks that is randomly chosen. Once you have your class and where you’re spawning, it’s time to wreak havoc.

Visuals

Most other Battlefield games will have you just spawn in once you choose a spawn point, but not necessarily for Battlefield 1. Instantly, the map zooms in on the location where you’re dropping into battle. I absolutely loved that effect, as it really drew you in more to the game. Looking around, everything is visually stunning, as you can see that DICE has made good once again with their Frostbite engine. From the big airships down to the smallest particle effects, no expense was spared to create such an engrossing experience.

Don’t get used to the landscape looking so pristine, as within minutes everything looks like it had been ravaged by war for years. All environments are dynamic as they’re completely destructible, as well as every bit of artillery being able to scar the landscape in unimaginable ways. Let’s not also forget the dynamic weather being implemented, as a standard cloudy day took a turn for the worst with a thick, heavy fog rolling in out of nowhere with rain.

The user interface has been slimmed down to a sort of minimal setting. While it feels like it blends into your screen, it’s still enough there to give you essential information like Health, Ammo, etc.

Battlefield 1b

Audio

There’s not much to say about the sound, as DICE has been able to deliver some of the best audio in Battlefield games for quite some time now. Every click of a bullet being loaded into a sniper rifle, every piece of dirt hitting the ground from a tank blast, planes dogfighting in the distance, hearing the footsteps of an enemy soldier trying to find their way through dense fog, nothing is left untouched. The audio in this game is with no exceptions, of the highest quality that I’ve heard to date in a game.

Gameplay

Combat is satisfyingly chaotic, with battles raging at many different points across the map. From the little bit that I played, everything seems fairly balanced, with nothing feeling overpowered. I was able to try out each class, which they all stand out separately on their own, unlike Battlefield 4, where you can mesh different elements to create sort of hybrid classes. The weapons felt very weighty and mechanical, much like they would be in that era. In firing your weapons, you feel every bit of kick and recoil as you try to obliterate your opponents.

As with all Battlefield games, bullet physics play an important part in aiming, and Battlefield 1 is surely no exception. Again, as due to the era this theater of war is set in, you get an immense amount of bullet drop, even with sniper rifles. Although it doesn’t feel like it’s overly done, it feels just about what it should be for that time in history. A very cool new feature that was implemented, is the use of bayonets. There is nothing better than charging full speed at an enemy that’s reloading, and impaling them with the front of your bayonet.

Switching over to vehicles, piloting tanks in first person view is one of the most satisfying things in the game. You truly get a sense of what many soldiers encountered and had to deal with such tight quarters. Depending on the tank you were driving, some were small and nimble with an exposed gunner on each side, all the way up to the big and bulky slow tanks that held five players, but can ram through almost anything.

battlefield 1 trailer

Overall

After my playthrough (and finishing with 8 kills 4 deaths), I felt that this is for sure going to be FPS of the year. I was sad because I literally wanted to stand there and continue playing, although I don’t think the 60 people waiting in line would have been happy with that. DICE and EA really rolled the dice (pun intended) on going to a World War I setting, and I truly feel like they’re giving gamers an entirely new experience in comparison to Call of Duty’s rinse and repeat method. I’m calling it now, that Battlefield 1 will beat Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare in sales this Fall as well.

This is my highest anticipated title for the year, and so far it hasn’t disappointed. It’s brutal, it’s bloody, it’s in-your-face epic-ness, and it’s everything that essentially is, Battlefield.

Battlefield 1 hits stores on October 1st for Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC.

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Narvin Seegoolam
Narvin Seegoolam 712 posts

Narvin's middle name is FPS....ok maybe not, but he's like BOOM!! HEADSHOT!! I'm hungry...